Jay Mann, Nederland. I fell hard for Colorado, like many people do, after spending a summer in the San Juan Mountains. I spent my days hiking in American Basin and on Handies Peak, studying butterflies. I slept in an aspen grove and remember falling asleep all too soon under the stars and the cool, crisp air. The experience moved me so much that I transferred to CSU from Rice University (Houston) and corrected my major from pre-med to Ecology. After graduating, my field biology jobs took me all over, from Crested Butte to Northern California, Hawaii to Peru.
On those jobs, long days in the field were capped by shared dinners. The normal distractions of television, computers, and showers were replaced by long conversations, stories, and self-consciousness in public places.
When you move to a new place and your social world is reduced to a small group of people, people that you work, live and eat with – it is intense. It can be fantastic or terrible. It took me awhile to realize how important those mini-communities were to me; that realization was a major reason that I went into libraries.
Communities are funny things – they are both familiar and essential, but they can be hard to define. Traditionally, a community is a group of people who live in the same area over time. Other common definitions are groups of people that share values, beliefs, goals, and/or interests.
Our modern day “advances” have added more layers and have brought things online – friends vs. public, likes and followers.
But going back to the idea of community as a shared space, modern public libraries are often gathering places – both physically and virtually – for communities of all types, be they parents, telecommuters, students, makers, etc.
Nederland is unlike any other small town that I’ve lived in. It feels remote at times but is an hour away from millions of people; it offers both the outdoors and culture nearby. It has life-long residents as well as an extremely high turnover rate. It attracts both the wealthy and the poor. And most of its residents work elsewhere.
We are in the process of setting some goals for the library for the next couple years. We could speculate but it seems better to ask you all – the community – what you want and need. So we are doing a survey. If you live in Nederland, you probably received a postcard in the mail. You can find a paper copy of our survey at the library or take it online at www.nedlib.org/survey And if you do fill out a survey, you can enter into a drawing for one of two $50 REI gift certificates.
Are there any programs or classes that you wish we offered? And if you don’t use the library then you probably aren’t reading this column, but we really would like to figure out how we can serve you. Is it our hours? Interior decorating?
Nederland is definitely one of the most vocal towns that I’ve lived in. Here’s a chance to live up to your reputation and help us serve the mountain community better.
Jay Mann is the Director of the Nederland Community Library.